Analyzing sport diplomacy as a manifestation of politics, one may notice that communication practices have important implications for diplomacy in terms of how political and informational messages are delivered and negotiation processes are conducted. Many studies (e.g. Espy, 1979, pp.59-75) have provided evidence that international sporting events affords the host country a good opportunity to build an image that reflects its military, economic, political, and cultural importance in a favorable way (Giffard and Rivenburgh, 2000, p.15).
Studies on the Olympics in South Korea, Spain, Australia and Greece showed that the host countries became more visible in the international media, and the tone of the reports and messages about them became more positive over time (Yang et al, 2008, p.429; Berkowitz et al, 2007, p.167). Messages communicated through media about the host countries were considered less unusual and depicted them as less threatening to the global status quo and to common values after the Games. In the case with the 2008 Olympic Games in China, there were three main themes effectively promoted through various communication strategies, namely: (1) green Olympics, (2) high-technology Olympics and (3) the people’s Olympics (Berkowitz et al, 2007, p.166). The idea is to proclaim a new image for China, one that is more environmentally friendly, high-tech and humanistic (Berkowitz et al, 2007, p.166). These themes could not have come at a more auspicious moment, amidst global concern over the way China handles its environment, its policy toward human rights, and the cheap low-quality products it sends to foreign markets (Berkowitz et al, 2007, p.167).
It has been pointed out in the previous section, that scope of sport diplomacy includes the development of national image and identity. National image and identity can be formed through various routes. Jaffe and Nebenzahl (2006, p.10) pointed out that the formation of national images is a complex communication process involving different information sources.